A fishy concotion – how to make frozen fish fantastic (in 20 minutes)
I realise fish may not be at the top of the list for many students, mainly because of the price. Now, before you even hear the slightest hint of a suggestion that fish is too expensive, I have to point out that I solemnly believe fish should be as expensive as it is, given how much the oceans are being overfished. I have fish once or twice a fortnight (if lucky), and sure, it could be healthier if I had more perhaps, but I’d rather have less fish less frequently for the rest of my life than have fish lots, and then have no more fish…because I wouldn’t be able to make this dish!!! I was going to link to a “sustainable fish guide” but the truth is, fish is a sad tale – especially in NZ, according to this article on Scoop. Try this guide if you’re interested (pdf).
Getting frozen fish fillets can be cheaper, but beware! Fresh fish fillets (especially the good stuff like blue cod) should be about $25/kg, and fozen fillets should cost quite a bit less. Don’t just assume frozen will be cheaper. Proper seafood stores are always best, and often have a better frozen fish selection.
Anyway! Kayotic Kitchen has this fantastic creamy crispy baked fish recipe, which made great use of frozen fish. I decided to try it out with pasta added, and it came out pretty good…
Yes, it was a filling, delicious meal, although I think I overcooked the fish a little (or maybe Tarakihi does that more easily…), and probably could have used more cream (ahem)…so I’ve adapted my method in my adaptation. Of course, you can just do the fish bake and serve it with potatoes, but the pasta cooked while the fish did so the whole thing only took about 20 minutes. YES, that’s right. 20 minutes. I did have a fantastic kitchen pally to help me though.
Creamy crispy topped fishy pasta bake
250g pasta (I used spirals)
250g-500g of white fish fillets (or misc fish meat if you’re using a whole fish), halved
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
5 tbsp breadcrumbs
50g grated cheese
2 Tbs butter
1 medium carrot, grated or julienned or chopped finely
1 Tbs flour
1 Tbs capers
1 tsp ground ginger
1 onion, chopped
salt & pepper
Bring a medium large pot of water (half full) to the boil, add an approximate teaspoon of salt, and add pasta. Let cook until al dente (“firm to the bite”).
While pasta is cooking, throw your chopped onion and carrot into a medium saucepan with butter and a pinch of salt, and cook until onion is softened (on medium heat). Add fish fillets, capers and ginger, then lower your heat one setting, and cook until one side of the fish is white (no longer pink). Flip them, then add flour, cream, mustard and lemon juice. Preheat grill to 200C, with rack in the center of your oven. Bring cream to a slight simmer. The fish should now be able to be broken easily with a plastic fish slice – break it apart. The sauce should be sort of thick and creamy. If too runny, sprinkle in more flour. If too thick, add more cream. Add salt and pepper, and once fish bits are JUST cooked, remove from heat.
Quickly drain pasta and add to a large and deepish roasting/casserole dish. Immediately add the hot fishy concoction onto your pasta, mixing it up a bit. Toss breadcrumbs and cheese together in a bowl, and spread evenly over the top. Place on the middle rack of your oven and let sit under the grill for about 5-10 minutes, until the top is golden and the cheese has melted.
Assemble a quick salad while the fishy pasta is grilling, or steam some veges, and you have a deceivingly vege-packed dinner ready in next to no time!